Amid media and intelligence reports of widespread false declarations to Customs, the filing of falsified income tax returns and data manipulation in the rice importation sector of Liberia, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has initiated an investigation to bring culprits to justice and recover needed revenues.
The Liberian government is waiving millions of dollars in duty free privileges that could be used to improve social services, but information available to the LRA indicates that these privileges are being abused, an LRA release said.
The LRA said some importers of duty free sanctioned commodities are overstating, fixing and making up prices to their benefits as means of profiteering, while enjoying massive tax waivers from the State.
“The LRA takes interest in investigating all information received from the public because its role is to also ensure that the just tax revenues are collected for the government of Liberia,” LRA Assistant Commissioner for Large Tax, Francis S. Dopoh, told the LRA Communications Section Friday.
According to Mr. Dopoh, the LRA has been conducting data mining analysis. The preliminary results of the rice and petroleum sectors’ gross margin analysis component indicate widespread income tax filing data manipulation.
He said the LRA is responding immediately to the rice issue because “rice is a sensitive commodity and the staple food for the country”.
Rice and petroleum are commodities connected to the daily lives and survival of the economy. Therefore, complaints and concerns from these sectors are serious, Assistant Commissioner Dopoh said.
He said the LRA will ensure that tax-paying obligations are met under the law, and those who choose not to comply will be compelled legally in line with the Liberia Revenue Code.
Assistant Commissioner Dopoh warned businesses to desist from mispricing and omission of information.
“Our audit process is mixed with intelligence and investigation so those who are in the habit or those who intend to engage themselves into such malpractices, the LRA is saying you will have to stop now,” he warned.